Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1074

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larry carlton plays the sound of philadelphia (335 records)

Larry Carlton Plays The Sound Of Philadelphia



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UK release date 01.08.2011

I donât usually review CDs that are more than a few weeks old. Often they are in my hand as an advance copy, well before release date. But I am making a rare exception with this one. Larry Carltonâs interpretation of some classic Philly soul tunes.

It is one that forsome unknown reason passed me by when it came out last year, and until the PR man for the record label told me about it and sent it with Larryâs (great) new album, (also reviewed here) I knew not of its existence. I am so glad I do now. It is gorgeous.

It helps that I love most of the Philadelphia International catalogue. Part of the soundtrack to my younger years. What better way to mark their 40th anniversary than put this CD on loud in the car, with top down in the spring or summer sunshine and head to the coast, or the nearest pub garden! But I make the exception to review an album that has been out a good while, for two reasons: Larry and Carlton. OK, thatâs one reason!

Larry has had 19 Grammy nominations and four wins. He has 30 albums of his own and features on over 100 Gold and Platinum records by such megastars as Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Bobby âBlueâ Bland, Quincy Jones, The Crusaders and Fourplay. He can do little wrong in the eyes of most guitarists around the globe, and music fans of jazz, blues and many other genres.

If it has his name on it, then it is rather like a companyâs products being granted the right to say âBy appointment to the Queen.â A guarantee of top quality. This album is pure quality. He does not mess with the original arrangements and melody too much, which is the right decision on such iconic songs, and agrees with the adage: Why fix what ainât bust? He allows the songs to be the Guvnor, and adds magic and huge value, with his magnificent guitar licks on all 11 tracks.

Larry tackles The Spinnersâ âCould It Be Iâm Falling In Loveâ as the opener, and their hits âIâll Be Aroundâ and âMighty Love.â He gives us some classics, such as The O'Jays' "Backstabbersâ, a joy here. We get Harold Melvin & The Blue Notesâ âIf You Don't Know Me By Nowâ, Jerry Butlerâs âBad Luck,â "Only The Strong Surviveâ and âNever Give You Up.â The Stylisticsâ âYou Make Me Feel Brand New.â Perhaps a surprise choice is, âMama Canât Buy You Love,â which was a US top ten hit in 1979 for Elton John from the Thom Bell Sessions EP, which featured backing vocals by The Spinners.

For me, the best track on the CD; Joe Simonâs âDrownin' In The Sea of Loveâ. A cracking song anyway, but here Larry is on fire. He bends those strings and gets the same tone the late great legendary Albert King did. A truly mighty performance.

Mainly an instrumental CD, but we do have background vocalists adding to some choruses and the smoky voice of hit songwriter Bill Labounty takes the lead on âDrowning in the Sea of Loveâ and âOnly the Strong Survive.â Mega songwriter, but a hot voice too - perfect fit here. Thereâs a six strong horn section and a classy five-piece rhythm section that includes, Late Show with David Letterman MD, Paul Shaffer, on organ. The charts are spot on, it is all terrific material and so the concrete foundations are all there to allow Larry to shine. Shine brightly he does.

Around 40 minutes long; apart from wishing it was a double CD, thereâs nothing I can say to fault this smashing little shiny piece of plastic. How could I when it has those two magic words of warranty on it? Larry Carlton. Letâs see him visit the Stax and Atlantic back catalogues next, pretty pleaseâ¦.

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